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Over 50s fear losing the family home to pay for care

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Two out of three (66%) homeowners aged 50-plus fear being forced to sell their family home to afford later life care, according to research from Nationwide Building Society.

The research, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 homeowners, shows that almost half (46%) of those aged over 50 expect to sell their property so that they can pay for assisted living support in a care home.

The cost of residential care has increased significantly in recent years, with the typical cost now more than £33,000 per year, according to live-in care specialists Elder.

Meanwhile it’s been estimated by Independent Age that more than 330,000 older people have had to sell their homes to pay for care costs in the past 20 years.

Nationwide’s data highlights an interesting split across regions, with 75% of older homeowners in the West Midlands the most concerned about affording elderly care, while only 60% of those in London were worried about it.

Nationwide also found that more than a third (35%) of older homeowners expect to have to move again to another home in their later life.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of those over the age of 50 would either consider moving or already have moved to a bungalow to avoid the need to go upstairs which would enable them to live independently for longer.

However, if older homeowners do need later life assistance, more than half (52%) would prefer to continue living alone with outside help from a daily carer that lives separately.

A further 23% would prefer to continue living alone, but with a family member close by for help. Only 2% would consciously choose to move to a care home if they needed support in completing everyday tasks.

For those older homeowners expecting to make changes to their current home to ensure they can remain living there, 81% expect to dip into their savings to pay for renovations such as walk-in baths or stair-lifts.

Nationwide is offering consultations for homeowners who may be considering releasing equity from their home to cover the cost of their later life care.

Jason Hurwood, Nationwide’s director of home propositions, said: “As life expectancy has steadily increased, so too has the challenge of funding later life care for many. To help people make their choice we need to consider their circumstances and outline all the available options. It is simply not good enough that they walk away with any product but the right product.

“If someone is looking to raise additional funding to pay for care, there are a number of options. One is to downsize or move to a cheaper area; alternatively, you could make changes to your current home that can support you as you grow older. Depending on your individual circumstances, releasing equity in your home is another option that many choose. However, this is a major financial decision and we’d always strongly recommend seeking independent financial advice to understand all of your options before progressing.”